Experts' guide to baby must-have products: From prams and car seats to babygrows and breast pumps – plus what to avoid

LOOKING at the long shopping list of items needed for a new baby can be overwhelming for any new parent – not to mention expensive.

But it doesn’t need to be mind-boggling and costly.



Fabulous asked three experts to share their top tips for parents-to-be. 

Louenna Hood – otherwise known as Nanny Louenna – is a Norland Nanny, Maternity Nurse and Childcare Consultant.

Tiffany Norris is the UK's first ‘Mummy Concierge’; a self-professed ‘PA for parenthood’ and guru to London’s elite and the Royal Family.

And Elizabeth Duff is Senior Policy advisor at The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) – the UK's largest parent charity.

Here, they explain what you should consider before splashing out – and what can be avoided altogether. 

Where to begin

Tiffany Norris is used to helping stressed-out mums and dads. She says: “Most of my clients come to me in a panic about what baby kit they need because they feel so overwhelmed by all of the choices out there. 

“But every parent is different and has different needs when it comes to baby kit.”

Elizabeth Duff advises identifying what is needed immediately – and what can wait until further down the line. 

“Think about what’s essential for your baby’s first few weeks,” she says. “Somewhere to sleep, maybe a lightweight Moses basket; something for travel, maybe an ‘all-in-one’ system with wheels and a car-seat. 

“Other products, like a highchair, can usually wait until your baby is sitting up so don’t rush to spend money before it’s necessary.”

Pram

Choosing a pram is a minefield. Even the terminology – pram, pushchair, buggy – can be confusing.

Whittle down your options by thinking about your lifestyle. “If you live in the countryside you’ll need a completely different pram to your friend who lives in the city,” says Tiffany.

“If you travel a lot, then you want a pram that can be taken as hand luggage on a plane. If you have a small car, you need a pram that will fit in the boot.

"Don’t just buy the pram your friend recommends. Buy the right one for you.” 

The Ocarro pushchair from Mamas and Papas (£849) is a great all-rounder with its dual wheel suspension and tough tyres.

Very easy to assemble and weighing 13.7kg, there’s a large basket underneath and its compact design means it can helpfully be folded away using just one hand.

For a lighter option from the same brand, their Strada model (£699) weighs 10.4kg and its small wheels and light steering make navigating city streets easy.

Also, the comfy padded reclining seat is suitable from birth.   

At the more luxury end, Priam and its little brother Mios are two stylish stroller options from Cybex, with celebrity fans including Katy Perry, Anne Hathaway and Rosamund Pike.

If you have the space for it, the Priam feels more robust and its bigger wheels are useful for tackling uneven terrain. Both can be collapsed with a one-hand-fold which will suit busy mums on the go. 


Nanny Louenna says that before making a decision on your pram it’s important to consider these points: Does the seat fully recline for naps? Will it be big enough for a toddler? What’s the wheel size? The bigger the wheel, the smoother the ride… Does the handle adjust height? Does it fit in your car? Is it easy to collapse?

Car seat

When it comes to buying a car seat, Tiffany says this is the most important item to splash the cash on. 

“This is the one product you should spend money on as it needs to be the safest piece of equipment for your baby. Never use a second hand car seat,” she says.

All babies start off in a rearward-facing infant car seat and the one you buy needs to meet EU standards. Look for the "E" mark label on the seat. 

Your child needs to be in the correct category of seat for their age and size. For more information on choosing and using seats, visit Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

The Cybex Cloud Z i-Size Car Seat (£239) gets Louenna’s vote. She says: “I really like these as they can be reclined when attached to a pram, allowing your little one to lay flat. They are super easy to install and come with an isofix base.

Maxi Cosi is another popular brand and their Cabriofix Group 0+ model (£110.99) is a great lightweight infant carrier.

It includes extra head padding for additional support and comfort.  

 Ickle Bubba’s Mercury i-Size Car Seat (£319) prides itself on comfort and durability and it’s easy to see why.

Its reinforced shell technology has advanced side impact protection in case of collision and includes a memory foam newborn insert and adjustable headrest.

Before buying, Loeunna suggests you consider: Does the seat recline for naps? Experts suggest that babies shouldn’t stay in the sitting position for long periods of time.

Is it heavy to carry in and out of the car? If you are planning to rear-face for longer, is this an option? Does it fit easily in your car? How long will your baby fit in it for?

Crib

Your baby will need somewhere to kip but in the early stages this can be in a range of places. 

Louenna says: “Consider how much room you have. If space is limited, I advise parents to buy equipment that can be folded up and stored away easily.”

The SnüzPod4 (£199.95) is both a crib for next to your bed and can easily be detached from the base to be taken into another room. Its dual-view mesh windows and a half-height zip-down wall give you easy access to your baby at night.

If you’d prefer something even more portable, the Dream Upon A Cloud Moses Basket (£89) promises to give your newborn somewhere snuggly to snooze.

It is lined with soft jersey cotton and has carry handles for moving about the house.


The Little Green Sheep’s model (£109.95) is a lovely palm leaf basket with a beautiful cable knit liner. 

If you’re planning to be on-the-go a lot, Aldi’s Babylo Liteway Travel Cot (£40) is a great, purse-friendly option. It has fully ventilated sides, a padded mattress and is easy to assemble. 

Settling your baby to sleep can be one of the trickiest jobs – and there are dozens of tricks you can try.

Ewan the Sheep (£39.99) proves to be a hit with many mums as he glows red and plays white noise to mimic the womb, which many babies find comforting.

The deluxe version features a sensor, which automatically activates when the baby stirs in the night, helping to resettle them.

Breast pumps

You can express milk by hand or with a breast pump. The frequency and quantity will depend on why you're doing it. 

Ameda’s Mya Joy double breast pump (£134.99) is good value for mums who are looking for a convenient, electric pumping experience. 

Louenna is a fan of Medela’s collection. “They have a brilliant range,” she says. 

Manual pumps start from £24.99 and can go up to as much as £350 for electric ones. 

Tiffany says: “If you’re heading back to work then the Elvie pump (£228.65) is a game-changer.

"It can sit in your bra and silently pump away – no one will even know you’re doing it.”

Babygrows

It’s tempting to buy lots of babygrows in newborn sizes but the experts advise against this as they grow out of them so quickly. 

Tiffany says: “You’re better spending your money on babygrows aged 0-3 months.”

A good place to start is with the Welcome To The World 6 Piece Newborn Clothes Set (£25), which includes two sleepsuits, a bodysuit, bib and matching hat and mitts

To keep things as easy as possible, Tiffany says to choose zip-ups instead of poppers: “It’s so much easier to do nappy changes with a zipped babygrow in the middle of the night.”

The adorable striped one from Boody (£24) comes with a two-way zip to aid nighttime changes.

Louenna recommends making things simple for yourself by choosing certain colours. 

“White or lighter coloured babygrows are ideal as you can put them all in the wash together,” she says.

Mini V by Very’s unisex 3 Pack Essentials Sleepsuits in white (£12) are great value and come in sizes from newborn up to 18-24 months. 

Another tip from Tiffany is to “purchase babygrows with integrated mitts as they don’t fall off and prevent babies from scratching themselves.”

JoJo Maman Bebe’s seriously cute duck embroidered baby sleepsuit (£19) has built-in scratch cuffs, as does Frugi’s ‘Lovely Babygrow’ (£20), which is decorated with a sweet farmyard print. 


Baby entertainment and sensory toys

“Tummy time is important for young babies and I encourage parents to do it at least a couple of times per day,” says Louenna.

The Elephant Activity Gym Playmat from JoJo Maman Bebe (£65) is a lovely padded play area with detachable grey and white stuffed animals. 

Likewise, Lovevery’s play gym (£140) has everything your developing baby needs and can also turn into a cozy fort.

High contrast image cards will keep them entertained for the first 12 weeks before a cotton ball and other toys will help them grasp objects.

As babies can only clearly see high contrast images in the early stages, Infantino’s 4-in-1 Milestones and Memories Twist and Fold Gymis a good way to keep them stimulated.

It also helps you keep track of their monthly milestones. 

Some little ones aren’t keen to be on their tummies so Louenna suggests rolling up a towel or blanket and propping it under their arms to help them enjoy the experience more.

Rockers and bouncers can be a fun way for babies to build their strength and see what’s going on around them. 

BabyBjorn’s Bouncer Bliss (£250) is a lightweight option that’s easily collapsible if you’re moving around. 

If simple rocking up and down won’t soothe your baby, Munchkin’s Swing (£199.99) imitates parents’ side-to-side swaying.

Its bluetooth-enabled and remote-controlled meaning you can choose the speed and sound – from a distance, so you can reclaim your arms. 

Slings and carriers

Baby carriers are useful if parents plan to do lots of walking or prefer to be hands-free when out and about. 

Tiffany says: “If you are having a baby in the summer, look for baby carriers that are made of breathable material so you and the baby don’t sweat. 

“Baby Bjorn does a wonderful mesh baby carrier (£190) which is perfect for the summer heat.”

Baby monitors

A monitor can give parents a piece of mind – and for Tiffany, it’s worth getting one that has a video.

“As new anxious parents, a baby monitor with just audio means you will be running up and down the stairs every time your baby makes a simple wimper. With a video you are able to check in the screen that your baby is safe and happy.”

Cubo AI Plus Smart Baby Monitor (£159) is a great mid-range option with a high definition camera and can detect when your baby has something obscuring its face. 

What’s not essential to buy

It can be tempting to buy everything on offer “just in case” your baby might use it once – but the experts advise against this.

For Tiffany, there’s one particular item she’d opt out of buying – a bath thermometer. 

She explains: “It’s very easy to tell if the temperature of the bath is ok for your little one just by dipping your elbow into it.”

Elizabeth says that there are other ways you can save money too. 

“Anyone on a budget, and most parents are, should consider second-hand items,” she explains. “Parents whose babies are a bit older are usually keen to pass on or sell good quality, pre-loved baby and children's clothes, toys and equipment. 

“You can take a look at which items are safe to reuse here.

“Useful equipment like baby carriers may be available for loan or hire via your local NCT branch. If you’ve decided that using a sling is for you, an NCT sling library is a good idea”.

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